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The Robie House, which was completed in 1910, is one of the finest examples of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style homes. ...
In fact the Robie House home was so important to Frank Lloyd Wright that he returned 47 years later to save it from being torn down. Due to his devotion, the Robie House still stands today and is considered one of the most important structures in American architecture. But what made this home so important to Frank Lloyd Wright? Why did he come here to save it? That's what Megh
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Meghan: The Robie house which is completed in 1910 is one of the finest examples of Frank Lloyd Wright's finest Prairie style home. In fact this home was so important to Wright that he returned 47 years later to keep it from being torn down. Due to his devotion this house still stands today and is continued to be one of the most important structures in American architecture. But what made this house so important to Wright and why do we love it still today? That is what I am here to finds out.
I am hitting the road, searching for answers and finding great design. It is a quest of beauty, function and of course inspiration.
Finding the front door of the Robie house can be somewhat tricky and Frank Lloyd Wright planned it that way. He valued privacy and the placement of the front door communicates that. But once you find it, you are in for a surprise. The interior of the Robie house is spectacular and nothing could prepare you for it. The living and dining room is one big room separated by a heart in the center.
But it is the large amount of windows and doors that make the room so phenomenal. A room with so many windows should feel exposing, but the low ceiling and the art glass make it feel cozy and yet connected with the outdoors. Even though the room is striking you cannot help but feeling a bit sad when you think that it was enjoyed for only a year by the Robie Family.
The family had to sell the home in 1911, and the Robie house stayed as a private residence until 1926 when it was sold to the Chicago Theological Seminary to be used as Mary dorms. The home suffered at that point and was almost torn down twice but the Robie house still stands today and to learn why it was such an important building to save, I sat down and talked with Karen Sweeney the director of restoration for the Robie House.
When I walk around here, it is really easy to tell that this place is grand. I mean it is stunning but what makes this place so important to the American architecture, why do people flock here, why is it written about so much?
Karen: Well a lot of it has to do literally with the architectural massing of the building. I mean, when you read architecture history books, you read about the Robie house because of the way Wright has moved the Prairie style to the point where he really has a modern building. When you look at the massing, not only the massing but the negative massing of the building and the negative interplay of spaces.
Meghan: Now what does that mean for somebody who is not architecture?
Karen: What that means is when you are looking at the building it is almost like the way he recesses things as much as the way he projects things on the side. And if you look at the outside of the building it looks very simple, but if you look really closely he has all these little four inch recess here and there that may go up two stories and it is that interplay of space that really makes it very dynamic.
Meghan: So, it is basically the way that levels protrude and…
Karen: How they protrude and it also is very important because of this architectural style that he develops during this time, the prairie style that we now call it. And it really is kind of a combination of that because you see the long horizontal lines. It really kind of takes it all the way to the end.
Meghan: Now when he built this, did he know that this was the perfect example of a prairie house?
Karen: He certainly highlighted it in his Wasmuth Portfolio. And the building was not even completely built when he was working on the drawings for that. So, it obviously was very important to him. I do not know at that point whether he stated that. He certainly —it is a one building that he came back and tried to save.
Meghan: And why did he do that, why is it so important to him?
Karen: Who knows? We do not really know, we just know that it was important to him that he did come back and visit the family even when it was not targeted for demolition. He visits the family in the diary of the Wilber’s. They talked about Mr. Wright coming and visiting the family. So, he really f